Nonna Mela runs away with Adirondack

Profile Picture: Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell

August 20th, 2016

St. Elias Stable’s Nonna Mela easily captured her stakes debut in Friday’s rescheduled $200,000 Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga when pulling away for a six-length victory.

The dark bay daughter of Arch chased the early pace set by Silvertoni through fractions of :21.81 and :45.13 before taking command rounding the turn. Jockey Javier Castellano didn’t have much to do as the Todd Pletcher trainee drew off in the lane to finish 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:16.83.

Nonna Mela was sent off as the 8-1 fifth choice in the seven-filly field and paid a very nice $19.80. This despite breaking her maiden by 7 1/4 lengths on July 2 at Monmouth Park.

Silvertoni stumbled at the start of the race but quickly recovered to lead the way early. The Wesley Ward pupil was making her first start since returning from a trip to Royal Ascot and secured second by 3 1/4 lengths over Olive Branch, who had a half-length to spare on 3-2 favorite Libby’s Tail in fourth. Ever So Clever and Romantic Music came next while Dial Me was eased in the final eighth.

Nonna Mela is now 3-2-0-1 in her career with $144,120 in lifetime earnings. The juvenile miss, who sold for $310,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, ran third in her June 3 debut at Monmouth.

Bred by WinStar Farm in Kentucky, Nonna Mela is out of the unraced Storm Cat mare Cool Storm, who is a full sister to Grade 1-winning sire Bluegrass Cat. The filly’s third dam is Get Lucky, from whom is descended the likes of Grade 1 scorers Girolamo, Imagining and Got Lucky as well as 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Super Saver.

Nonna Mela photo courtesy of NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography


Todd Pletcher, trainer Nonna Mela, winner: "It's worked out well. Vinnie and Teresa (Viola, owners of St. Elias Stable) made the decision to send all of these babies early to Palm Beach Downs. They all got started there and, in the case of Bode's Dream, she broke her maiden at Gulfstream and then won the Astoria (at Belmont on June 9), and then Sweet Loretta broke her maiden at Monmouth and won the Schuylerville (G3) and now this filly has done the same thing. So it's worked out well, its paid dividends getting them in there early and having a little experience leading into races like this."

On rescheduling the race: "I wasn't sure how she would've handled the track that day, so that was a question mark. The condition of the track and how it turned out, it kind of felt good when they did cancel. She had a really good week leading into this. We decided not to breeze her back, it was a little too close to try to squeeze a breeze in. I thought Javier (Castellano) gave her a very clever ride today. We felt like she could've been close but we didn't want to get her out of her comfort zone. When those two (Libby's Tail, No. 7, and Silvertoni, No. 6) came across the track, he decided to ease back and pop back outside of them and it turned out to be a smart move.

"I thought one of her works here was really good and the other one I thought was just OK. The track here's been a little quirky and we felt like she showed us enough to give it a try. We weren't completely surprised (by the effort), although this was a pretty dominating performance, really."

Javier Castellano, jockey Nonna Mela, winner: "I liked the way she broke from the gate. It was a great performance. There was a lot of speed out of the gate, but she broke sharp and put me in a good position. I moved her a little outside, I didn't want to get stuck on the rail. That was the key to win the race.

"When I saw that Silvertoni tried to dictate the pace and go to the lead, I didn't want to go too fast. My filly didn't have to be on the lead. She had control in the race and finished strong. I really liked the way she did it."